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Should I open the starting sentence after comma in adressing "Hi," ("Hello,") with capital letter?

Hi, Xxxl, Dear Xxx L,
let me ...

vs.

Dear Xxx L,
Let me ...

In Russian it is not though it is more than frequently being goofed.

Related question:

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Context? Letter, email, novel? –  Benjol Feb 9 '11 at 8:52
    
I'd like to hear about any possible contexts. For example, in Russian, the rule is uniform and universal for all occasions. –  Gennady Vanin Геннадий Ванин Feb 9 '11 at 9:33

6 Answers 6

Since this is an informal and nonstandard mode of address (as compared to the more usual "Dear X,") I would say that rules of style are less important than for more conventional letters.

However, as far as I can tell, there is no good reason to oppose conventional style in this case. I would therefore recommend that you stick with the tried-and-true style of using a capital letter to start the letter proper:

Hi Xxxl,

Let me enquire into the origin of your weird name...

Note that there should be no comma between "Hi" and the name of the addressee.

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Is there a rule that there should be no comma between "Hi" and the name of the addressee? While it is common practice to write "Hi Xxxl", it is not incorrect to write "Hi, Xxxxl". –  Tragicomic Feb 9 '11 at 9:16
    
I'd also like to know because my colleagues show me official letters from the USA. They are all without comma. –  Gennady Vanin Геннадий Ванин Feb 9 '11 at 9:37
5  
[Before I answer that, I'll reiterate that opening a letter with "Hi" is distinctly informal in tone, so if you're concerned about minor details of proper style and comma placement, determining an appropriate mode of address should be of greater concern.] The rule is that there should be no comma between "Hi" and the name, although there should be one after the name. Being non-standard, such an interrupting comma appears as a deliberate break, and so would be read by a native speaker as a distinct mental pause in the sentence - something you probably don't mean to include. –  PyroTyger Feb 14 '11 at 13:47
    
why don't I mean to include mental break? This is the purpose of commas while addressing someone... –  Gennady Vanin Геннадий Ванин Feb 14 '11 at 17:31

Formal letters often seem to separate salutation and first line with a colon and thus continuing with a capital letter seems fit:

Dear Ms. Last:

Let me ...

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I disagree that the comma is optional. I agree that its use has become generally accepted in informal writing, but I don't think it can be called "correct."

Most importantly, it differs entirely from the thing it's mimicking:

Dear Schnordblast,
...

Dear, in this sense is more of a title and less a greeting.

In the message, hi is addressed to Xxxl, and it therefore should get a comma to indicate that part 1 addresses part 2.

Knowing entirely that the following is unconvincing, I'll offer one more point: Think of our intonation as you would read it aloud.

Dear Schnordblast,
The years have seemed like hours since we [...]

Hi, Jim --
How goes it on the chicken farm?

In the first, the tone is even or falling throughout; in the second, it does that addressing comma thing (roughly, down on first word, up on second) along with the little stutter pause that others have referred to.

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1  
I think you've missed the point of the OP's question, which is about capitalization of the following sentence and not the comma use itself. –  Lynn Aug 1 '12 at 15:41

I did a quick Google survey (ie searching for 'letters from the queen' etc in Google images and looking at the scanned letters that are generally the result).

-The Queen seems to use a comma and capital

Dear Mr Subject,

Thank you for...

-The President seems to use a colon and capital

Dear Mr Fellow American:

Thank you for..

-The Pope generally uses a comma but NO capital

Dear Mr Believer,

thank you for...

An observation rather than an answer, but if you wanted a precedent...

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Welcome to EL&U, but please take the site tour and read through the help center to gain an understanding of how this site works and how to craft good answers. –  choster Sep 7 at 20:15

I think this is a common mistake. I do not understand how can be grammatically correct to put a capital letter after a comma.

Ciao John,

how are you?

Isn't the same as saying: "Ciao John, how are you?".

If you are using a colon, after the greetings, then you can use a capital letter. If you are using a period or nothing at all, then you can use a capital letter.

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English does not generally use capital letters after colons. In general, however, paragraphs do begin with capital letters, regardless of what the previous paragraph ends in. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 7 at 21:32
    
I see your point, but then can someone explain why this doesn't apply to Europe? –  Pokono Sep 22 at 15:27
    
How do you mean this doesn’t apply to Europe? This is a matter of language, not geography. There are many languages in Europe where sentences following colons do begin with a capital letter; English just isn’t one of them (regardless of whether you’re in Europe or not). –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 22 at 15:31

I was searching to see if it's common today to (incorrectly) capitalize the beginning of the sentence after the greeting (Dear Dolly,) and am surprise to discover the people answering are lost themselves.
First, there is not a comma after “Hi/hello” but before the name, unless you use a title and name: “hi, my dear sister, Yvette” or if you don’t address anyone: “Hi, this note is to inform our team that…” The only other use of a comma following “Hi” would be in creating a secondary form of addressing the same person, similar to: “Hey, you over there. Do you have the time?” in which case it would actually be written as, “Hey; you over there…” And it is not formal or correct to capitalize after "Dear Dolly," since a cap indicates one of two things: the beginning of a sentence or paragraph; or a proper noun. There is never a capitalization following a comma in any other circumstance. It's very frustrating for those of us who not only study language but love language to see people who do not really know discussing language as if they do know. I think this is a problem because there are so many who see others do something consistently and assume it is correct; or the are self-taught and misunderstood something. The world is full of exceptions to exceptions now, accommodating everyone and not wanting to correct anyone. But it's very frustrating.

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It is indeed “very frustrating for those of us who not only study language but love language to see people who do not really know discussing language as if they do know”; clearly, however, you fall into the latter category, if this ‘answer’ is anything to go by. Hardly anything in it (except for the sentence I quoted) is even remotely correct. –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 7 at 21:34

protected by tchrist Sep 7 at 23:55

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